Paintings of Coastal Skies

Capturing the endless varieties of ever-shifting cloudscapes

Purple clouds spreading out in front of pale yellow sunlight against a deep blue dusk sky
Soft purple clouds spreading out before the late day sun

My house has a large porch and I spend most of the warmer seasons out there – reading, writing, painting, eating meals, drinking coffee… One sunny Sunday afternoon, I found myself mesmerized by the fast-changing clouds. So, I got out my brush and paints and had a delightful time rushing to capture the colours and shapes that I saw. After a joyful couple of hours, I found myself hooked by the ever-changing colours, soft and hard edges, filtered hazy light, and billowing forms. Nature provides endless variety in her skies and I find myself captivated in a whole new way as I strive to paint it with my brush.

One rainy day a short while after making those first sky paintings, I dug through my photo archives for more skies. I wanted to be able to race a little less quickly with my brush, take the time to study the forms more carefully, and to explore the moments where light and colour tend to change most quickly (dusk and dawn, before a storm).

It’s been a good challenge to paint the subtle colours of clouds one against the other – even slight shifts in colour temperature or value can dramatically change how the painting reads. While painting, I found myself noticing the translucency of cloud shapes, bouncing luminous light, and featherlight scatterings of contrasting clouds… and puzzling about how to best capture those effects with my brush. I concentrated on feeling what the clouds were doing and reflecting those movements with my own gestures as I painted. This made each skyscape feel almost like a dance of colour and movement.

A trio of paintings of coastal skies.

Having lived in cities for the first three decades of my life – and now living by the ocean with long stretches of open coastline nearby – I find myself continually awestruck by the unobstructed expanses of water and sky. I regularly head out for a walk and then find my eyes drawn up to the skies above or out toward the ocean’s horizon. For me, this vastness of the coastal landscape has become an essential part of the story of this place that surrounds me every day.

For me, this vastness of the coastal landscape has become an essential part of the story of this place that surrounds me every day.

The sky over the ocean is often wonderfully tempestuous with ethereal beams or glowing areas of light. The subtle contrasts of these moody skies is utterly captivating, and am working on a series of seascapes which I look forward to sharing over the coming months. In the meantime, here are a number of sky studies I’ve done over the past few months in preparation for a larger collection I plan to release in the new year.  I had so much fun painting their pastel colours and soft contrasts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them!

This is one of many galleries of paintings and other artwork I’ve shared as I go along. You can view past galleries on the blog or see more of my work in my portfolio, which I update regularly with new paintings.

Get the monthly letter: I share new work, inspiration, stories, and glimpses into my creative process in my monthly email letter.  Every few weeks, I will also send an email with tools and reflections for living your best creative life and – of course – giving you first access to new art collections and limited edition prints. You can sign up at the bottom of this page.